Easy does it as Browne keeps a clean sheet
By BRUCE MACDONALD
MARK Browne and his crew of Malcolm Gibson and Peter Brodie swept through the opening phase of the Hongkong Champion of Champions match racing series yesterday in Junk Bay, the sole crew to return a clean sheet of three wins.
The annual series pits the top crews from Hongkong's various racing classes and Etchell sailor Browne and his crew handled with ease the switch to racing in Sonatas.
The Etchell fleet features the territory's best sailors and the performance of Browne only underlined the strength in depth of the class.
A total of 12 crews raced in an ideal six-to eight-knot breeze from the southeast in flat seas.
The crews were divided into three pools of four with the top two in each group winning through to today's second phase, which will open with a round-robin followed by a best-of-three semi-final series and a best-of-three final.
Also advancing from Browne's pool was 470 dinghy champion Thomas Wong and his crew of Anthony Chan and Chan Yuk-wah. Rounding out the fleet for today's second phase are Bertie de Speville (Flying Fifteens), Brian Edwards (Sonatas), Henk Stijweg (Impalas)and Lowell Chang (Dragons).
The all-woman crew of Justine Evans, Fiona Gregor and Jenny Buck bowed out in the first phase but not before they won a tight pre-start duel with De Speville who crossed the start line early on the half-mile windward-leeward sausage course. But the womenwere defeated in their other two matches and will watch today's finals from the sidelines.
A stroke of luck led to Wong making the final series. He was trailing Ruffina representative Li Fook-hing by a big margin when a halyard broke bringing down the mainsail forcing the organising committee to call for a re-sail, which Wong won.